Chesterton Tribune



County to install LED blinker stop signs at McCool/Robbins

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Aiming to curtail the streak of personal injury and fatal vehicle accidents at the intersection of McCool Road (C.R 400W) and Robbins Road (C.R. 875N), the Porter County Commissioners approved the installation of an amber LED light blinker beacon and red LED blinker stop signs on Tuesday.

Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, said he became interested in improving safety at that intersection following comments made on social media regarding a fatality there last spring. He said he contacted the Sheriff’s Department to do a traffic study and learned that nearly 100 accidents have occurred since 2007, the vast majority resulting in personal injury.

“It’s hard to figure out why there are so many accidents out there. It’s got good sight lines. It’s very flat. A lot of it is speed and driver impatience. We can’t do anything with the impatience but maybe we could do something with the speed,” Biggs said.

Rather than putting up the large cost of installing a traffic light, which would require electricity and acquiring the right-of-way, County Highway Department Superintendent Andy McKay said there was money leftover in cable franchise funds to install a solar-powered blinking light and stop sign.

The cost for the new lights and signs will be $10,083. This would be the same kind of improvements the county made a little over a year ago at the intersection of Meridian Road and C.R. 700N in Liberty Township, which McKay said was relatively inexpensive.

McKay said the Indiana Department of Transportation announced plans to close Ind. 149 from U.S Highway 6 to U.S. Highway 20 starting after Labor Day for a bridge replacement, which means more motorists will be driving through that intersection next month as a detour.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September will be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Porter County, by proclamation of the Commissioners.

Director of the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation Donna Criner provided the proclamation, which states that, in the last year, 19 children in Northwest Indiana were diagnosed with cancer and five more have lost their life. It remains the largest disease related death in American children. One in 285 persons will be diagnosed by the age of 20 and the Federal Drug Administration has only approved four drugs to treat childhood cancer.

“The lack of childhood cancer research has a tremendous impact to kids and significant cost to society, now and in the future,” the proclamation said, read by County Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center.

Biggs said he will ask the County Building Department to put up posters and for information about the program to be placed on the County’s website.

Criner said she appreciates if the Commissioners could encourage citizens to participate in cancer awareness activities throughout the month. Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said every year the NICK organization is doing more.

“I think you are making an impact. It’s sad to me that we see the same kind of statistics every year,” Blaney said.

Time and Attendance

In other business, the Commissioners opted 3-0 to approve a contractual agreement with Right Stuff Software to implement a new payroll and timecard scheduling software, contingent on funding approval by the County Council.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said the committee looking into the software determined that just three physical time clocks, worth $2,000 each, will be needed for the County Highway Department. All other departments will be using computers to clock in, she said.

The one-time cost for the installation of the software is $40,000, plus $3,000 monthly for maintenance.

Urbanik said that she is also working to sync up the paydays for all the departments so there is less confusion. After Oct. 20, everyone will be in line for when their pay day is and when their vacation time, sick time and leave time.

Vehicle Auction

The Commissioners approved a contract with Engstrom Auctions for the Sheriff’s Department to hold an auction in October for surplus vehicles from its fleet at the County Highway Dept. The Voters Registration Office said it also has items it is would like to sale.

Whatever money is generated from the sale goes back to the county fund which originally purchased the item, Urbanik said.

Police/Fire Radios

Tuesday’s meeting also featured the introduction of Mike Brickner, who will lead the 911 Communications Center and the Emergency Management departments which are to be merged.

“I think we have some outstanding people who are working in our 911 system and our EMA. Let’s take a great organization and make it better,” said Brickner, who begins his role on Monday after retiring as chief of Valparaiso Police.

Biggs gave kudos to the Kouts and Hebron Fire Departments who were able to get a $750,000 federal grant to purchase radios in preparation of the county’s transition to an 800-megahertz system, mandated by the state. He also thanked Valparaiso, Portage and Chesterton for taking the initiative to buy their radios.

“As the Board of Commissioners, we are very impressed and really appreciate the hard work that all of you did to apply for that grant because not all the departments have done that. This is less burden on the taxpayers,” Biggs said.

Biggs said the board met with Motorola last week and should have pricing with rebates for the new system to be ready in the next 60 days.

In other actions Tuesday:

* The Commissioners appointed former Pine Township Trustee/Assessor Nancy Kolasa as their representative to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

* Approved a list of employees who will have County take-home vehicles. The list is available in the Commissioners’ office for anyone who wishes to see it, Good said.

* Paid an installment of $88,321 to Larson-Danielson for construction of the new Animal Shelter. Also signed was a certificate of substantial completion.

* Approved a county employee to receive 90 home care visits instead of the maximum of 60 on the County’s health plan, as recommended by servicing agent RE Sutton. County Attorney Scott McClure said this will be a cost savings for the County.

* Contracted with Boyd Construction of Valparaiso to seal coat and stripe the parking lots at the Porter County Jail and Juvenile Services Center. Facilities Manager Matt Stechly said to his knowledge, both lots have never been seal coated before and the work is needed.

* Approved agreements for the bridge over Salt Creek on Old Porter Road to have superstructure replacement.

* Terminated an ongoing contract with Dave Burrus, who had been assisting with drainage improvements, now that the Stormwater Management Department is undertaking the work.


Posted 8/17/2017




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